After decriminalisation,sexual minorities now look for citizen rights

Enthused by the Delhi High Court judgment decriminalising homosexuality,the members of the lesbian,gay,bisexual and transgender community in the city feel it’s time to voice their rights as a sexual minority.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni | Pune | Published: July 11, 2009 12:28 am

Enthused by the Delhi High Court judgment decriminalising homosexuality,the members of the lesbian,gay,bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the city feel it’s time to voice their rights as a sexual minority.

The community has grown in numbers — from 3,200 in 2008 to over 7,500. It witnessed a record registration of 100 members in just five days post judgment. This has added to their confidence and with the Assembly polls round the corner,they feel the timing couldn’t be better.

“Every one is talking about us. Every political party has a stand on our issues. This is the right time to put forth our concerns. We are planning to approach politicians for fulfilling our basic needs as citizens,” said Ketan Sawant,a community member.

And their problems include denial of job opportunities,admission to educational institutes and vocational training. Sayyad Rauf,LGBT activist of Udaan,a city-based NGO said,“A majority of the LGBT community members work either as eunuchs or sex workers,earning Rs 1,500-2,000 a month,for the simple reason that they are not offered a job. Those who are already employed lose their jobs when their orientation is known. We have approached authorities for PAN cards,voter ID cards and ration cards. Also,we are in talks with placement agencies for jobs.”

Healthcare is another issue. “Sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV are the most common health hazards and medical needs are an important aspect of our citizenship rights. Under Section 377,we could not openly admit our orientation but now we have approached the government hospitals for providing us basic healthcare facilities. Not only that,we are in the process of signing an MoU with over 14 doctors who are willing to treat us,” said Safik (Hanif) Manjothi,another community member.

Legalising homosexuality also means acceptance of their relationships and the members want gay marriages to be legalised. “We want to live like normal human beings and contribute towards the society,” said another member Sachin Gadpallu.

However,the politicos are not enthused. They don’t think the LGBT community is a major vote bank to be wooed. “I do not think that the LGBT community rights can be an agenda for the forthcoming Assembly elections. This issue has more to do with human rights than politics. Yes,respective parties might proclaim and try to take the credit of the development as per their stand,but neither vote bank nor agenda could be the possibilities,” said Ranjit Shirole,an MNS candidate for the last Lok Sabha elections.

Suhas Palshikar,professor,Department of Politics and Public Administration,University of Pune,had a similar view. “I feel there is no possibility of the issue becoming a political agenda,but references to it will certainly be part of elections.”

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